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Spanish box office down

Piracy, economic slowdown to blame

MADRID — Even this year’s Hollywood blockbuster bonanza can’t halt Spain’s longterm box office slide.

Total box office through Aug. 13 came in at Euros368.9 million ($501.1 million), 1% down on total B.O. takings for the same period last year.

Admissions dropped 5.6% to 66.8 million, according to Nielsen EDI, Spain.

Many analysts blame rampant P2P piracy. “What’s happening is that the range of leisure options in Spain for Spanish youth is diversifying fast to take in multiple kinds of internet activity and vidgames, for example,” said Nielsen EDI Spain managing director Jose Manuel Pimienta.

Also, at $7.50, “Ticket prices are now viewed as relatively steep at a time when Spaniards are beginning to count their Euros, facing a possible economic slowdown,” added Nielsen EDI head of client services, Arturo Guillen.

To date Spanish films have failed to take up the slack, with no big B.O. hit this year.

The plunges come despite socko takes from a bevy of big-hitters, led by “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” ($30.7 million), “Shrek the Third” ($29.7 million) and “Spiderman 3” ($24.8 million).

“Bourne Ultimatum” and “Surf’s Up” bow today in Spain. But no big release this year looks set to match “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.”

Going out Aug. 11 last year, pic grossed $39.2 million, becoming 2006’s top grosser. So prospects of a late 2007 recovery in Spain’s B.O. fortunes look somewhat dicey.

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